Friday, August 2, 2013

Kevin Rudd announces new asylum seeker deal with Nauru - ABC Online

Updated August 03, 2013 15:56:41

Asylum seekers who arrive in Australia by boat can now be processed in Nauru and, if found to be genuine refugees, can be resettled there under an agreement signed by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Nauru's president.

The memorandum of understanding is similar to a deal Mr Rudd struck with Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neill a fortnight ago.

Mr Rudd says genuine refugees who arrive in Australia will be sent offshore for processing and will be free to "settle and reside in Nauru".

He says he understands Nauru is a small country and the number of people who could be permanently resettled there would be up to the government of Nauru.

"Our governments have agreed that the Republic of Nauru will not only maintain and extend its regional processing capacity, but it will also provide a settlement opportunity to persons it determines are in need of international protection," Mr Rudd said.

"This means that those seeking safe haven will have the opportunity to settle and reside in Nauru."

The announcement comes just a fortnight after asylum seekers being held on Nauru rioted, causing extensive damage to the facility there.

In its economic statement yesterday, the Federal Government said its offshore processing plan was expected to cost $1.1 billion.

The latest announcement is part of Labor's move to ensure no asylum seeker that arrives in Australia by boat will be resettled in Australia.

Mr Rudd has also announced the Australian Government will spend almost $30 million on aid in Nauru in 2013-14, money he says is accounted for in the economic statement.

"Implementing these sorts of arrangements with people as ugly as people smugglers is always hard," Mr Rudd said.

But he says the only way to deal with the issue is to attack the "core business" of people smugglers by preventing them from promising asylum seekers the prospect of resettlement in Australia.

"Those folks are not going to be allowed to settle in Australia," he said.

Mr Rudd was also asked whether he would be announcing a federal election date, but says no decision has been made.

Mr Waqua says his country is happy to play a part in a regional solution to the people smuggling problem.

"The problem of asylum seekers is not just Australia's," he said.

He says Nauru's attitude has not changed from the original so-called Pacific solution introduced by the Howard government, and that his country is happy to help.

Nauru's total population is just over 9,000.

More to come.

Topics: refugees, immigration, community-and-society, rudd-kevin, person, federal-elections, elections, government-and-politics

First posted August 03, 2013 15:26:14
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